The Leaping by Tom Fletcher
Jack finished university three years ago, but he's still stuck in a dead-end job in a sinister call-centre in Manchester. When the beautiful (and rich) Jennifer comes into his life he thinks he has finally found his ticket out of there. Trouble is that his boss is interested in Jennifer as well, and there's something strangely bestial about him... So when Jennifer buys Fell House, a mysterious old mansion out in remote Cumbria, a house party on a legendary scale seems like the perfect escape for them and their housemates. But as the party spins out of control on a seemingly neverending night, they must face up to the terrifying possibility that not all their guests may be human - and some of them want to feed.
I picked a copy of The Leaping up earlier this year during a random jaunt to Waterstones to feed an itch for some horror flavoured at that time. Jack and his housemates work at a grubby call centre- they're quite a mixed bag, bound together by a mutual hatred for their dead-end jobs and the dream of finding Something Better. The creepiness starts off slowly, and builds towards creating a claustrophobic and unsettling vibe; even a stark and rolling countryside becomes something sinister in Fletcher's hands. I really enjoyed this- it starts off innocently enough but quickly snowballs into a sordid and savage fever dream. Recommended.
Department 19: The Rising by Will HillDepartment 19: The Rising by Will Hill
His purpose, however, is noble. His researches are all directed to raising the dead. Not as monstrosities but as people, just as they were when they lived: physically, mentally, and spiritually. For such a prize, some sacrifices are necessary. One such sacrifice was his own soul, but he now sees that was a mistake - it's not just that he needs it for his research to have validity, but now he realises he needs it to be himself.
Unfortunately, his soul now rests within the festering bureaucracy of Hell. Satan may be cruel and capricious but, most dangerously, he is bored. It is Cabal's unhappy lot to provide him with amusement.
In short, a wager: in return for his own soul, Cabal must gather one hundred others. Placed in control of a diabolical carnival - created to tempt to contentiousness, to blasphemy, argumentation and murder, but one that may also win coconuts - and armed only with his intelligence, a very large handgun, and a total absence of whimsy, Cabal has one year.
What really made this pop for me was the distinctive voice that came through in the writing. Wry and laced with a wonderful black humour, it hooked me from the first page and didn't let me go until the last. Cabal isn't a nice guy (the cover blurb refers to him having 'the moral conscience of anthrax' - brilliant!) and he stays that way throughout, which is as gratifying as it is fun. I highly recommend taking Cabal for a spin - I'm certainly going to be picking up the others in the series.